Twenty Boy Summer
By Sarah Ockler
2009, Little, Brown, 304 pages
According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie—she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.
Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.
— Amazon.com description
Oh my, more books on death. Again, I feel I was able to appreciate this book because I knew that was its premise going in. No real shockers after reading the back of the book.
The story starts out with Anna's (what a great name!) remembrances of falling in love with Matt. Cake fights, sneaking away at night, whispered promises...I really, truly feel for their growing romance and now would like to please, Sarah Ockler, read a version of this book in which he lives. Mmmkay? Thanks. Because Matt = adorable.
Well, but then he died. Which was just shocking even though I knew it was coming and sad sad sad. Frankie and Anna are sent into a funk—but how can Anna grieve for her lost, secret boyfriend when she's got Frankie to support? Ockler did a beautiful job of letting the readers in on all of the characters' emotions. She doesn't just tell you what Anna's going through...she makes you feel it yourself.
Gut-wrenching to read, but beautifully done.
Plus side: Grief and death are very real issues that everyone has to deal with. The main question here, "What is the statute of limitations on feeling guilty for cheating on a ghost?" Anna writes in her journal to Matt. It's a version of a question anyone who's going through a loss has asked themselves. Again, this book just felt very sincere and honest. A good read.
Down side: The entire virginity plotline. I didn't care for how callous the girls were about it. And then when someone DOES lose her V-card, it's kinda swept over. I get that, in comparison to Matt's death, maybe it's not going to seem like a huge deal. But it IS a huge deal, especially when the girl is 16. It was hardly discussed or thought about or anything after it happened, and that deeply bothered me. NOT for the 12+ crowd that the publisher suggests.
Moral of the story: At the end of grief, once you've been truthful with yourself and others about how you feel, perhaps you'll experience what Anna does: "Calm, I guess. And love. And forgiveness. And closure. A beginning, an ending, and a new beginning."
Side note: GORGEOUS cover, and the sea glass fits into the story perfectly. Kudos, cover designer!
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Oh, I don't know anything ever by Nicholas Sparks? For your weepy types? I don't know, I don't read that...someone ALWAYS dies.